Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #48

Chris Watson

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia

Alice has had some fascinating visitors this week. First up was a pair of Caspian Terns sighted at the sewage ponds. This is the largest tern on earth with a wingspan approaching 1.5m. These huge birds are known to lurk around inland bodies of water but we don’t often see them here in The Centre.

The terns weren’t the only unusual sighting though – local bird man Mark Carter had a very unexpected encounter with a Pheasant Coucal only a short way up the track from town. We’ve had this species reported quite a bit around Tennant Creek this year but this far south is highly irregular. Also pushing south at the moment are the Masked Woodswallows that have been seen in flocks 300 strong, high over town this week during their annual migration.

The sewage ponds have been hosting a few interesting waders this week as well; a Pacific Golden Plover and a couple of Red Knots have been seen by a number of birders. These birds have all still got some of their breeding plumage and have just touched down after non-stop flights from perhaps as far away as China and North Korea.

Lastly, a single Nankeen Night-heron is currently in care after being found by the pool at The Chifley resort! This is another uncommon species around Central Australia. You would normally have to head to Boggy Hole or 2 Mile Waterhole to track one of these down. He’ll get looked after by the very best wildlife carers in Alice before being released once he regains his strength.

 Happy Birding ‘til next week!